Kim: Welcome back. I’m Kim Baillie, she’s Fulyana Orsborn. This is Inside Exec. Today we are joined by a guest and that is Brad Tornberg from the U. S. Now Brad is a bit of an entrepreneur in his own way in that he has developed a system that is called Business Fitness. And we want to talk to him about that today, in terms of business growth, digital transformations, achieving peak performance in your business and in your personal life, enabling employee wellness, which we’ve talked about quite a lot in the podcast over the last couple of years, technology trends which I’m particularly interested in and finding the right software for your business, which I know we have been asked a number of times after we’ve had guests talk about particular ways of doing things and managing their businesses. So that’s of interest, I think, to many of us listening, so welcome Brad. Thank you for finding the time for us today.
Brad: Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Kim: So in that quick intro Brad, is there anything that you would like to highlight in terms of what you want to cover today that we will be keen to hear about?
Brad: Well, while we’re primarily here to talk about Business Fitness and Business Fitness University, I will give you accolades in mentioning the fact that I’m an entrepreneur, have been one for 35, 40 years, have been very deep in the technology space. From that and understanding business processes, led to a lot of management consulting, personal consulting, software selection, project management, things that maybe are outside of the technology space, marketing, sales development, a bunch of different things. So I’m kind of open to any conversations we have. But again, to talk about the Business Fitness revolution, which is really kind of a summary of almost 40 years worth of work and effort by me and observation, a lot of its observation, which is how the course and the book got written because it was just me observing, walking into a client one day and realizing that the business owner was extremely out of shape, eating fried food, yelling and screaming at the people in this organization because people were miserable and they weren’t happy. And that was when I came to the realization that, you know, the business owner was extremely out of shape, eating fried food, yelling and screaming at the people in this organization because people were miserable and they weren’t happy.
And that was when I came to the realization that, you know, the business owners essentially the brain of the business and how he communicates effectively or doesn’t communicate effectively is like the central nervous system of the body. So it started as a blog article and then we started to add, you know, writing about the infrastructure, which is the skeletal system, which is how strong businesses versus how strong the body is, the circulatory system, right? Which is like your heart and how blood moves through the body. But business is how quickly transactions moved through the system, financial cash flow. And then we started doing this for every element of the business of the human body. And we compared it to the business body.
13 blogs later I had a book and then after about a year of looking at the book and seeing how people were doing online courses, I said, you know, I had a good year, financially, let’s put some money and let’s develop an online course. The original intent of the online course was to create something that was sellable. But now I look at it as, I have more content that I can put out into the social media space probably for the next 40 years than I’ll ever have. So I look at it as a way of generating interest in some of the things that we do because there are so many different things people like, what do you do when you start explaining? Like what’s your focus?
Well, I like to think that I’m a generalist in a very specialist niche marketplace and I’ve had expertise and experience across all of these different things to be able to provide kind of an omniscient view for the client, I want to be that. And everyone uses this term, the trusted advisor to the client and the way that I do that is by whatever they bring me in for the first time, is making sure that the expectation and the delivery are not only the same, but that the delivery is better than the expectations. So there’s no gap. So that’s kind of my stick and where you know, what brought me to this, it’s this is kind of an evolutionary thing over the last 35 years that, you know, I looked at coaching, I looked at a bunch of different things. I bought a duct tape marketing business franchise to do marketing and sales and you know, I’ve bought and sold enough businesses to finally feel like this is where I belong, this is my comfort zone.
Kim: So if you look back over that period of time and the things that you have done, the system that you’ve developed, all that has evolved from your experience, had you had that to look at when you first started out would you have done things differently?
Brad: That’s a great question. I mean, you know, failure is a stepping stone to success. And let me tell you I failed a few times. I mean, I started a business and it became successful and I put my feet up on my desk and I sat back and said, boy, isn’t life great. And then all of a sudden, you know, your sales goes down. So the first thing you learn is when you’re in business is never take your foot off the pedal, never pick your face up and your nose up from your desk until you’ve actually made it. Don’t think that you’ve made it. And I’ve learned that you can accept failure as long as it helps you grow and develop to those things that lead you towards success.
And people that tell me well I was successful the first time I said, well, you know, your parents owned the business or you’re goddamn lucky. It’s just what occurs to me because I’ve dealt with someone over the past few days who is really struggling with imposter syndrome. So does this help them, give them a framework for understanding where they fit so that they’re not so worried about someone tapping them on the shoulder? Well, it’s interesting you mentioned that because I think the differentiator, the way that I go to business, I’ll give you a little bit of my background. I get up at 3 30 in the morning and I go to the gym at four a.m. I work out for a hard hour, I drink a protein shake. I come back, I start to orient myself for the day and before most people are up, I get a couple of hours of work done. So you know, for me it’s about, it’s about that discipline. But the thing I like about the program is that I’m working with not only the business to achieve peak performance but the individual. And that’s the big thing because imposter syndrome comes from people saying, I don’t think I’m good enough. So there’s a psychological aspect when I work with business owners of making them realize that hey, you’re taking a risk that 99% of the world will never take in their life. So that already put you ahead of everybody.
So imposter syndrome is something we all get it, I get. I’ve joined Microsoft as a consultant and the people that are in Microsoft are much smarter than I am, have much more expertise in a particular area. So even I suffered from imposter syndrome when I joined them, but then I realized something, that I have skills that they don’t have. Now the question for the person who thinks they have imposter syndrome is, what skills do you have? What is your competitive or your comparative advantage to everybody else? That is your core strength, and that’s what you need to develop. So I try to get them to focus in on what their core strength is and a lot of times they don’t know what it is until we actually go through an exercise of, you know, some people are great at selling, some people are great at storytelling, some people are great at delivery, other people are great at marketing. It’s finding out where that core strength is and developing 100% optimization of that skill within in addition to your physical wellness, because you can have a very successful business, but you, as a business owner, if you’re not in good shape and you’re not healthy, you’re not at peak performance. So if you’re not at peak performance, how can the business operate at peak performance? So we’re looking at how you do anything is how you do everything? Exactly right. We’ll let Fulyana ask a question or we’ll be in trouble. Actually, I’m really, really interested in what you’re saying because it is so true in my business is very similar, it’s about the person and I think as a leader, people look up to that person to lead and if they’re not looking after themselves, if they’re chained to their desk for example, 24 hours a day, if they’re not sleeping enough, if they’re getting irritable, that does have a ripple effect on the whole organization. So you have the responsibility to be fit and to me that plays out so many times, so you’re spot on there. Plus it’s interesting if you are an entrepreneur, the one thing I’ve learned being an entrepreneur is entrepreneurs are not necessarily good managers and managers are not necessarily good entrepreneurs.
So as an entrepreneur, the best thing I could have done is talk about a failure. I was hiring people who were like me, which is the worst mistake we could make. I don’t need another entrepreneur, I need someone to do it. So I need someone who has skills that I may spend my whole life becoming adequate at, but they’re really good at it. So you know, I learned this from Dan Sullivan, which is, figure out what two or 3 things you do better than anyone else to differentiate you and delegate everything else. That’s hard to do as an entrepreneur, you want to control and you want to own everything, but you have to learn that you have people that you can delegate to. The other thing is as an entrepreneur, is things that upset you that you might vocalize or say to your people, you don’t think have an effect on them, but it actually does have an effect on them.
So I’ve learned that, you know, you sometimes have to separate friendship from business because as an entrepreneur, you want everyone in your company around you to be your friends, you have relationships with your clients, with your vendors.
So you don’t have the relationships with your employees. It’s kind of like separation of church and state. You have to have that separation otherwise you can’t scale your business and grow because that’s what starts to create inbred politics and favoritism and today, which is the big thing and I don’t know about you people but me as an older person, someone who’s been in the business a long time. I’m used to, if you don’t do that, I’ve got to move on and get someone else to do that today. It’s about empathy and inclusion and leaning in as Brene Brown would say and everybody being kinder and gentler. Well honestly people that are of my generation who have been in business for a while finding a little bit of confusion around that because hey, when I was a kid, you know, if I didn’t do the job, I got fired. You know, I got one morning and I got fired today, it’s kind of like, what can we do to make things better? So it’s almost like, you know, as they say, everybody gets a trophy today, everybody gets a trophy. Even in business, it is a transformational shift in the way that we do business.
And of course it’s been made much stronger now with remote learning and with Covid because we don’t have that kind of person to person, belly to belly, integral contact with our managers or with our peers. So we have to do things virtually and I don’t know about you, but I’m much better when I’m in front of people, I’m a belly to belly guy, I like to sell that way and I develop a friendship with someone before business ever comes into the picture. I can’t get along with you, then I can’t do business with you. If I ask you a question, like it’s five years from today and we’re looking back, tell me we’re having coffee together and you’re really happy with what I’ve done, tell me what I’ve done for you and when people say, I don’t want to really do that, or I don’t want to tell you what my future plans are. Well, if they’re not going to open the kimono and share with you, then there’s no possibility to develop trust between the parties and if you can’t have trust, how can you have a business relationship?
It’s interesting because for 12 months of when we were recording, we used the Dan Sullivan question at the end of the interview and we said, you know, if we were having this conversation in 12 months time, what would you be looking back on and saying that you were happy that you had done?
And so many of the people that we spoke to just looked at us blankly and thought, I don’t know. So my question is, that if they don’t know where they’re going to be they don’t have a road map, how do you know where they’re going? And I have learned the art of qualification. It’s taken me a lot of years. It used to be, oh, you want some business? Great, let’s jump in and get started. And what ends up happening in those situations is they end quickly and they tend to end painfully as opposed to something where that person is opening up to you, they’re explaining to you what their pain is, asking you to pull that sticker out of their paws, so to speak, in order to get that you have to establish a baseline trust.
And I find that people that I can establish a baseline trust with, I’ll know that in the first conversation with them. What I’ve also learned as I’ve gotten older, it’s how to say no, and that’s even more important in business because you can’t be, you can’t scale if you constantly picking up business that isn’t good for your business or that requires you to not have an economy of scale to do something new for the first time Maybe it makes sense because you want to expand your offering your product line.
But typically people that are in business, especially early entrepreneurs, will take anything and everything that comes their way. So what ends up happening is there’s a ceiling of complexity, the harder they work, the more money they will make, but then they get to a certain point where they either have to get rid of some of the garbage, hire more people or decide what they want to focus in on. So a lot of times the clients that I’m working with are unfocused and they’re asking me to help focus them, like where should I be, where should I be spending my time and effort?
And that’s as simple as looking at, you know, who are the clients that you’ve had, where have you been successful? Where have you had less competition? You know, those niche areas, find that niche and expose that niche and forever be in business. So a lot of people don’t do that because it’s like the attention spans a little bit. I’m even guilty, oh, this looks great, let’s pick this up and put it into our office, also that looks great. Meanwhile we have a kimono full of, we have a bag full of a whole bunch of things, but no real direction on what we want to do with it or how we want to apply it or how we should present it to the client because it’s kind of like these are all the things we have picked, you know. It doesn’t work that way.
Kim: Focus is really the key to success that I found, especially when it comes to scaling your business. Time for a break in our discussion with Brad Tornberg about Business Fitness. Join us for part two where we will continue this discussion and explore a little bit further, Brad’s background and what he’s suggesting that we should be looking at for our businesses today. But for now I’m Kim Baillie, she’s Fulyana Orsborn, we’re talking with Brad Tornberg and this is Inside Exec.